To bunk or not to bunk

As most seasoned travellers are aware you can't escape hostels, and most importantly why would you? Hostels are cheap, comfortable enough and full of the most interesting people. You aren't really a traveller if you haven't stayed in one, well that's just my opinion!!!

Like anything you get some good and some pretty shocking hostels. I have stayed in some worse than prison cells, and others that may as well be a hotel the facilities are that good! My favourite hostel so far is Dolphins Beach House in Noosa Australia, for the reasons why see here.

So having stayed in my fair share of hostels over the years from school trips, to backpacking round the world here is my do's and dont's, to both survive hostels and enjoy them even more!!

DO check in as soon as check in opens to nab yourself a bottom bunk, no one wants to climb a dodgy step ladder, or in some cases take a leap of faith to reach your bed for the night. Add in the inevitable fact you will have had a few bevvies it is just a recipe for a disaster!

on the note of check in times.. DO see what time check in opens, honestly there is nothing worse than getting off an overnight bus in desperate need of a shower (mainly for the comfort of others around you !) to discover check in isn't till late afternoon. Some hostels do let you use showers often charging, and when you are on a tight budget that just won't do !

DON'T take anything that isn't yours, even if someone took your charger in the last hostel, firstly two wrongs don't make a right, secondly that is a sure fire way to make enemies and in the backpacker circuit you certainly don't want any !! Finally at the end of the day it is theft, so just don't! That also goes for food in communal kitchens. If money is tight just ask people, someone is bound to take pity and cook you pasta- instant new friend and you've done nothing wrong!

DON'T get a room over the hostel bar, unless you plan to be there every night that is, as you categorically will not sleep.

DO introduce yourself to your roomies. These are more than likely the people you will head to the bar with that night, or the beach the next day. If they seem shy, all the more reason to be friendly! DON'T worry about the language barriers there's always some common ground and you will probably learn a phrase or two.

DO choose the large dorms, they are cheaper and whilst sharing with 20 people may seem like a disaster really that is just 20 new friends.

DO keep your things tidy, there is nothing more daunting for a newbie to the dorm than a floor and every surface possible already filled with bags and possessions. Everyone needs a bit of space to dump their backpacks, so leave 'em some room.

For those in South America or Asia, DO take some toilet roll when you head out for the day. Hostels have plenty, public toilets don't.

DO clean up after yourself. This mainly relates to communal kicthens- others want to have clean utensils to cook with too you know, don't be selfish.

DON'T loose your key and be the idiot knocking on the door to be let in to your room, and if you simply have to- do make sure it is your room !!! Receptions are usually 24 hours and are used to people like you, your room mates may not be sympathetic. Even if you have your key try and be stealthy when returning to your rooms late you do have to face these people in the morning, and if you disturbed their sleep they may be grouchy.

DON'T keep your key card near your bank or transport cards- it deactivates them, very annoying when you cant access the toilets in the middle of the night. Reception probably don't want to see you fresh faced with bed head asking for it to be reactivated.

DO carry a padlock with you, most dorms have lockers for all your valuables you just need a padlock to actually keep the stuff safe. You can usually buy them at reception but expect to pay well over the odds.

DON'T take forever in the shower, the person after you wants hot water too, and most backpacker places are in areas where water is a highly valuable commodity !!!

DO check if the hostel offers free wifi especially in Australia and New Zealand as the dreaded global gossip charges you way too much and never really works anyway. For free wifi you can always rely on Maccy D's, museums and public libraries.

DO make the most of travel shops, advice and all the extras hostels provide, this may be free meals or walking tours of cities. Chances are you will save a few quid and meet even more people- winner.

I really could go on and on with things to make hostel life better, but in reality throw yourself in at the deep end don't be a skeptic- go for it. Hostels are great !!!

and if you read this entire post - go you !!!!!

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